When This Old World Starts Getting Me Down

by Nancy Bestor

rooftop barWhen two of my girlfriends and I went to New York City this past spring, one thing we knew we wanted to do was have a drink at a rooftop bar. NYC has plenty to choose from, and the weather during our visit could not have been better for sipping a cocktail and watching the sun go down over the Big Apple. It was a Tuesday night when we finally got our chance to seek out a rooftop perch, and our expectations were high.

Coming from small town Ashland, Oregon, I never expect lines, waits or traffic for anything. Here we can almost always waltz into any bar or restaurant and find a spot whenever we want. Apparently that’s not the case in New York. The first rooftop bar we tried was 230 Fifth, and when we arrived at about 5pm, it was hopping with people. The hostess asked if we had a reservation. As Lyle Lovett would say, “it was then I knew I had made my first mistake”. Once she learned we did not, she pretty much lost interest in us. Though she did take our phone number and said she’d call if something came up, she did not check the wait list nor did she offer us an expected waiting time. And best of all, she did it all with an amazing lack of enthusiasm. We only waited a few minutes before deciding that there were many more rooftop bars to choose from, so we moved on. This porridge was too hot.

The second spot we tried (which made such a small impression on me I can’t remember the name) was way more low key, perhaps a little too low key, with wooden lattice on all sides of the balcony, pretty much blocking the view entirely. I can say with certainty that it was in Chelsea, or the West Village, or maybe even Mid-Town. Less pretentious than 230 Fifth? Definitely. Too casual? Yes. Crowded? Yes again. This porridge was too cold.

Our third and final spot—we’re nothing if not determined–was Vu Rooftop Bar on top of the La Quinta Hotel. There were several empty tables, we had a stunning view of the Empire State Building, and we even got a free drink for “checking in” on Yelp. While there was no table service and the drinks were $13 a pop, this porridge was just right.

There are oh so many rooftop bars in New York City—way too many for us to have visited on this trip—but there’s always next time, right girls?

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